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‘Pulp Fiction’ flowchart tries to make sense of the Tarantino classic

Will Perkins
Wide Screen
June 22, 2012

Director Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film "Pulp Fiction" did many things in addition to marking the true arrival of the director. For starters, the film resurrected the career of "Saturday Night Fever" and "Look Who's Talking" star John Travolta and made Samuel L. Jackson a star. But more to the point, "Pulp Fiction" challenged mainstream audiences to think about what a movie could be.

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Tarantino's homage-filled crime film demanded a lot from its viewers, requiring a certain familiarity with movie and pop culture history - or at least a willingness to learn about it - and a high tolerance for blood and gore in order to be fully appreciated. But the film also asked those viewers to follow what remains to this day an extremely complex narrative structure.

The beginning of the film (in the diner) takes place near the end of the story chronologically, and from then on the director skips and jumps from point to point in the story throughout the film. The nonlinear storytelling employed by Tarantino in "Pulp Fiction" (and previously "Reservoir Dogs") has since become one of the director's trademarks, however in the early 1990s it was not something audiences were used to.

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Even today, the structure of "Pulp Fiction" is a little much for some to wrap their heads around, which is why digital media designer Noah Smith decided to create a handy  flowchart to try to clarify the order of events seen in the film. Smith created the infographic for an Information Design class he was attending last year, and put it on the internet shortly afterward. The chart became so popular that the designer subsequently started a Kickstarter campaign to cover the costs of printing it as a poster to sell.

Click the image to see the full-sized version

Does Smith's infographic help clear some things up for you? Does the events depicted in Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction" make more sense now?

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